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Monday 08th of March 2010
March 2, 2010    

Handful of countries see house price growth in 2009

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by Kay Murchie
Handful of countries see house price growth in 2009

The Rics European Housing Review 2010 has revealed a mixed bag for European house prices.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) found that only five countries reported growth in house prices - with the UK being one of them - rising by 1% in 2009.

Norway led the way with a 12% gain during 2009, while Finland, Sweden and Austria also experienced growth.

However, the worst falls were noted in Ireland, Spain, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Hungary with house prices diving between 27% and 53%.

Like many other countries, Ireland experienced a decade-long property boom but the economy was badly hit by the financial crisis and the global economic downturn and property prices have plummeted since their high in 2006.

In the meantime, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and France saw declines in property values of between 4% and 6% over the year.

The report’s author, Professor Michael Ball, said: “The shallowness of the downturn in core European housing markets has surprised many commentators. But Europe is not the USA, and the problems and policy responses have been different.”

However, he cautions housing markets on the borders of Europe - where mortgage loans can be in foreign currencies - still face “great uncertainty”.

Meanwhile, Rics said low interest rates and a shortage of properties are expected to support house prices in the UK this year.

The report stated: “The UK economy stayed in recession longer than any other major economy but some degree of growth is expected in 2010.”

House prices in the UK lost almost a fifth of their value in the UK from peak to trough.

The report comes as respected US billionaire investor Warren Buffett said the problems in the US property market will be over within a year.

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